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RVC Blue Speaks gala raises $85,000, awareness for autism

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Anthony Cancellieri, far left, joined 2018 Courage Award winner Sean Caulkin Patrick Ring, who won this year’s Courage Award, Mary Lou Cancellieri and Rob Cancellieri.
Anthony Cancellieri, far left, joined 2018 Courage Award winner Sean Caulkin Patrick Ring, who won this year’s Courage Award, Mary Lou Cancellieri and Rob Cancellieri.
Maureen Lennon/Herald

RVC Blue Speaks, a Rockville Centre-based organization that had raised more than $150,000 for autism support and awareness since it was founded in 2017, held its annual gala on April 13. The event added to that total, bringing in roughly $85,000. Organizers were still counting proceeds as the Herald went to press Tuesday.

The charity honored local businessman Butch Yamali, president of the Dover Group, who has donated the cost of the gala, held at his venue, the Coral House.

Anthony Cancellieri and his wife, Mary Lou, of Rockville Centre, founded RVC Blue Speaks when their grandson, Louis, was diagnosed with autism at age 2. The group’s mission is to promote awareness and acceptance of those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder so that their quality of life is enhanced and their potential is fulfilled; to raise funding for genetic research, support programs, and community initiatives that directly serve families in need on Long Island; and to change the conversation about autism into action and progress.

To date, the group has supported autism awareness group Autism Speaks and the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. It has also awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to students at the Bridges to Adelphi program at Adelphi University, which allows students on the autism spectrum to more easily transition into university life and then, upon graduation, the workforce.